DOGS DON'T TELL JOKES

Gary "Goon" Boone tells jokes instead of having conversations; almost everyone—parents, teachers, schoolmates—is tired of him. When a talent show with a $100 prize is announced at school, Gary decides to make his stand-up debut memorable. His parents promise him another $100 if he stops telling jokes for three weeks. For Gary this is a minor struggle; he tries to understand why other boys his age collect baseball cards, and he gains gradual acceptance in their friendly football games. Their practical joke on Gary. does help launch his career as a comedian, but it is his hard work and practice that lead to his overwhelming success at the show. Readers themselves may feel benumbed by the endless litany of bad jokes; even Sachar's talent for creating humorous situations (There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, 1987; Sideways Stories from Wayside School, 1985—which gets a plug in this book) can't Shine through the too-familiar riddles. Still, Gary is a likable, completely good-hearted boy who turns out to be refreshingly frank about his own shortcomings. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1991

ISBN: 0679833722

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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